Nearly thirty years ago author and astronomer Carl Sagan captured the earth in a way no one had before. The space photograph captured earth light-years away and probed an idea of unity of mankind for his book, “A Pale Blue Dot.” In a crippling pandemic that has disconnected everyone, Swiss metal band Dreamshade has found a comfort and familiarity in Sagan’s words and book, naming their new record after it.
While Sagan took a scientific look at mankind, Dreamshade focused on what they found unifying about humanity and politics and geography had nothing to do with it. Instead, culture and community drove the album while provoking ideas about individualism and its negative impact on the universe.
“Because of the pandemic situation, we really realized the human being is actually just one big equal,” Bassist/programming member Gian-Andrea Costa tells American Songwriter. “As a band, we never talk about politics in our lyrics. We really think that all the differences that join the world are beautiful. And we have this kind of perspective of a fragile unique planet, without any reason to fight one against the other. We are without any differences because we are all people.”
The ability to see beyond potential disagreements and opinion always persevered over any perpetuated ideas from other cultures, geographical areas or politics and offered the band many collaboration opportunities. One of which was with Italian/New York hip-hop singer Rose Villain, also their first ever female guest for the single “Stone Cold Digital.” “She’s very open-minded and loves music,” Costa said. “We’re very happy with the song.” The song also illuminated the frequent concern over humankind’s increasing dependance on technology and how it interferes with the community aspect of life.
“The song is about the obsessive digitalization of mankind,” guitarist/vocalist Fella Di Cicco said about the song. “Our smartphones know everything about us — often more than we know about ourselves. They know our secrets, relationships, and preferences. That’s why they quickly become our ‘best friends,’ because they have the answers to all our questions. We go to sleep with our devices, and we wake up with them. We all know we have a problem with this but act like we can handle it when in fact we are doomed. Technology is in our hands and it can be the best thing ever. What we make of it is just up to us.”
Villain was introduced to Dreamshade by new drummer Fry Ferrini, who had come to the band last year as an established drummer in the metal community and as a fan of Dreamshade. “We were very lucky finding him,” Costa said about Ferrini. “We had been in touch a long time because he was a fan of the band. He also doesn’t live too far from us. And we already knew that he was a very good drummer who plays a lot. The guy is really like us in many ways, not just music-wise. After the first show we did with him we knew he was the right person.”
In addition to the collaboration of “Stone Cold Digital,” Darkest Hour frontman John Henry was also featured on “Nothing but the Truth,” which was recorded on tour when Fella was filling in with Darkest Hour on their 25th anniversary tour in early 2020.
Dreamshade also welcomed more experimentation with an emphasis on programming on many of the songs like “Elephant,” which started from a beat sample and the single “Shanghai Nights,” written about the sadness of leaving China after a tour. The single opens with a subtle, natural sounding keyboard lick before advancing to the shouted anthemic verses and chorus that cry, I want you to know/ we’ll never be divided/ even when I’m gone.
Though the programming element is important to Dreamshade, Costa always explores it in a way that ensures the bands integrity as a guitar driven metal band. “We are really fascinated by all kinds of genres, so we always have fun experimenting and stuff,” Costa says. “I personally try to never push all the electronic stuff on the front, because at the end we are we are a metal band and a guitar driven band.”
While ramping up collaborations and supporting their idea to forge community among different cultures, on an album featuring people coming together for the sake of art, Dreamshade went one step further into their vision for unity when they brought their fans into the mix on the closing track “Save This.”
The song featured 517 fan vocals/screams from all over the world. Costa recalled it as an apex for the record, bridging the album’s theme of individualism in the scope of humanity full circle. The feat was not easy on the mixing end, having to piece together hundreds of vocals that were curated over a WhatsApp tutorial the band made for fans to follow and record their parts for the song.
“We really wanted to involve our fanbase from all over the world on the album,” Costa said about the song. “It was a nice message to send. We made this little video tutorial on how to do everything. We were expecting something like 40 people, but just in a couple of days it was hundreds of fans. It really surprised us and is something very special. It took a lot to put 517 voices together, but it really inspired us. I like to talk about that as the most important feature on the album, more than what we generated. It was just something very emotional for us.”